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tv   [untitled]    March 4, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm EST

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it's actually the first inaugural gown. she had a busy live and made a point of saying busy women also like to buy their clothes off a rack, but stressed you shouldn't buy from sweat shops. her politics also came into the clothing. >> what are is the oldest gown? >> the oldest gown in the collection is martha washington's. it's not on display. it has been on display for a sustained amount of time. it is having a rest right now. when we round the corner, the oldest dress is dolly madison's. >> fast forward to today, michelle obama donated hers? >> she presented the dress and the jewelry and the shoes. they were actually donated and she -- it's interesting. this is the first time we had the designers and mrs. obama had them donate these pieces.
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jimmy choo donated the pieces and they are donated when you see the label. it will be donated by jason woo in honor of mrs. obama. she came to present the museum. >> what are goes into deciding which dress to wear and are they thinking about the influence that will have on their husband's administration? >> we like it to be more political than it probably is. when you did, there was a video claim and we were lucky enough to interview rosalin carter and laura bush about the dresses that they chose, thinking maybe there was a symbolism. mrs. carter for sentimental reasons wore a dress she had worn when her husband was made governor of georgia. mrs. bush collaborates with the designer and wanted a pretty party dress.
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what women -- the first lady wants it to be beautiful and comfortable and appropriate. appropriate is the word when first ladies are dealing with clothes. they want to be appropriate for the occasion and appropriate for their age and the circumstance and i think appropriate as a symbol of the united states. we still do look at the first lady as representing women in the united states. even when she is not functioning in duty, she represents the united states. >> let's take a look at the first ladies, four of them that you featured here at the exhibit and talk about their roles. >> wonderful. it's this way. . >> before you walk into this room, you have a quote from michelle obama. she is talking about that there is no formal job description for this unofficial role of the first lady.
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talk about that quote and how you think that impacts the first lady's decision of how they go about doing this job, if you will. >> the quote itself really wraps up in a lot of ways what this exhibit is about. we found it close to the end, but it sets so well in here. it really is a position this n which there is no official duty or job description. each first lady remakes the job. we like to say based upon her own interests and the needs of the presidential administration and the expectations of the american public, all of which can aid her or hinder her at any point in time. it's a trial and lawyerror. yet they prey off of each other and build on each example before them and each creates a new example to follow. there no rules.
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are there boundaries? >> there boundaries. there is always a tension about how politically involved the first lady can be. what are you talking about when we can't see you? from the basketball and we read in varying books from presidential advisers themselves, this is the person who sees them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. there is always an interest in whether the first lady's goals and the stories about whether her goals and ambitions are the same as the president's. if they are running in synch and if she is reflecting the administration. most good first ladies have been able to dove tail their interests with the administration's interest who were happened and glove with the president to put forward the administration's goals with her as a part of that administration. >> we will talk more about how
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these four first ladies individually walk that tight rope. tell us why these four and what were you trying to do? >> the first ladies and you see the dates, it's roughly 50 years between. we wanted to show different points in time because we very much wanted to show the first lady's relationship to that period and women in that type period. my mentor as the first lady. it really looked the first time at the first ladies in the context of women's history. and the roles played by the first ladies. we wanted to take another step with that and this time instead of looking at roles specifically as hostess or political partner, to look at how each different women summed that all up and combined the roles of what they
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did. we also wanted to give you a more intimate view of the first ladies and the things you will see and the kinds of things people say. be they a piece of china or watch or scrap of fab lick. the kinds of things to remember our lives. like we say things in the book case or cre denza. we wanted to show people say and linked to a memory and tell a story. you won't come away with the full idea, but you come away with a pretty good idea and hopefully we will find out more about her and the rest of the sisterhood. >> dolly madison, what kind of first lady was she? what does the story? >> the first first lady to really establish the role of the political hostess. she is the friendly face of the madison administration. james madison is serious and
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shy. dolly madison is his front. the person who sets up and has the parties. james is in the corner. she can have everyone coming to talk to him and she stirs up support for her husband. she doesn't create enemies and she is a real master of that sort of parlor politics where women are setting up networks of social links. she has her finger on the pulse and can bring that information back to her husband. she has a series of friends. she finds friends of friends. it creates a support group for her husband and for her husband's administration. >> what does her bookshelf, if
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you will, in this part tell us about who she is and the artifacts in there? >> the one that is reason ant is that piece of wood and that is a piece of timber that is burned in the war of 1812. it came to us from a collector and references dolly madison didn't save it. what references is dolly madison's heroism and the thing we all remember. they saved the portrait from george washington and other pieces that she was the last one there as the british were advancing and left in front of the troops who burned the white house in 1814 and the war of 1812 and all that was left was the skeleton of the white house. you can seat graphic behind the dresses. that's the period picture of the white house. >> her actions following that to keep the capital. they were talking about moving the capital or an easier place.
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something that wouldn't have to be rebuilt. she made it back to the capitol in four days and rented the okt gon house and set up shop there. proceeded to put parties back in and to have parties again. to make a statement that said we are here. we sur survive and we are staying here. they began the rebuilding of the presidency. >> the role of women at this time and political rights for women in dolly madison's era. women played a looser role than in the revolution. women's rights began to be curtailed more. women don't have a legal identity apart from their husbands. married women. they can't vote and they don't have an independent legal standing. they have to find a way to
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maneuver around it and had influence within that sphere that comes from influencing the power players. creating these back channels and the second that can influence things that are going on. really keep washington moving. >> let's move on to mary lincoln. what's her story? >> she is probably looking to someone like dolly madison saying this is what the first lady is supposed to be. i am going to do this. i am going to be a hostess and have this influence and be an adviser to my husband and a war starts. she has to retool what she is doing. following this idea of dolly madison and the hostess, she believes that she ns to show a powerful presidency that foreign government should support in the war. we want to be on our side and not the confederacy's side and demonstrate that the government is powerful and the leader is
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powerful. things are progressing as they normally would. >> how? >> when they moved in the white house was a mess. compared it to a third rate hotel. they did a lot of redekzration of the white house. it was considered to be very successful redecoration, but it went over budget. she bought new china in the china section with the purple china with the arms of the united states. in wartime, this didn't go over as well. it was extravagant. instead of having large parties, she had hand shake days from the public so they could come and see the president. then some people criticized that because it was too egalitarian. she couldn't seem to win.
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she always had been an adviser to her husband, but this was a new arena and a bigger issue. she was facing charger problems and she didn't have the contact with her husband and the influence she wanted to have. that was a disappointment to her. although she did play a in his reelection. she wrote letters to state leaders to try to have them support her husband. she tried to have influence, but it wasn't the right environment for the first lady. >> let's talk about the dress. who made her gown? >> elizabeth techly, an afghan american slave who performed her own freedom through the money she made as a seem stress. she moved to washington, d.c. and set up a very successful business and she was the dress maker for maria davis who asked her to go south with them when the confederacy asked them to go to richmond. she chose not to.
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she interviewed for a position as mrs. lincoln's dress maker and the two became much more than client and entrepreneur. they became friends and equal to be sure. they became friends and she was mary lincoln's close of confident in the white house. >> some of the artifacts in the mary lincoln section. the watch. >> we talk about it with mary lincoln and mary lincoln was an active supporter of the sanitary commission to raise money. she visited hospitals and that watch was won by her husband for giving the most money as a contribution to a sanitary fair. one talks about it and the wonderful image of one of the images. >> anything else about lincoln's bookshelf that is notable? >> i think a wonderful piece is referenced with elizabeth tech
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me in as well. it shows their friendship. she established an association to raise money and help slave who is had crossed the lines and made it to washington, d.c. she gave money and supported her in efforts to do this. they asked for the memento and mrs. lincoln and they associate mary lincoln and the elegance and the spending and the possessions. we do have beautiful pieces that came through the family. a wonderful thing and a beautiful diamond and gold enamelled wrist watch. the china. the kind of thing that you say a scrap of fabric and the decoration that was saved by the
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decorating firm and found its way. you get an idea of the fabric what her style was. >> edith roosevelt? >> it was at that point that the white house that we know first came to be. the white house. edith roosevelt wanted it to evoke its colonial roots. it's a very federal formal white house. the beautiful pillars and the great entryway and the grand staircase she put in helps to brought in a more regal worldwide presidency. they move into the greater world as a power. the white house was built to command respect and show the
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power of that presidency. mrs. roosevelt was in charge of the decoration of that white house. >> she added a first lady's portrait. >> she did. she consolidated the portraits and commissioned hers and established a first lady's gallery. >> politically, what is she known for? >> she is a first lady that steps away from policy. certainly she is someone who can restrain her husband and can say opinions to her husband. she keeps very private with them. she had a young large family and was concentrating on that family. she wanted time for her family and husband. we think in a lot of ways as one of the first managerial first ladies. she wanted time and decided what
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she was going to delegate and she has a social secretary who has a huge press interest. great cover material and great photographs. she didn't like that crying of the press and would have to accommodate them. she and her social secretary would release pictures and pose pictures. you can't do stories and release information and release photographs. she had the first press secretary. >> sorry that the first time that happened? >> this was the first time that even something approached a secretary's office for the first lady. she delegates a lot of household duties and has a caterer do the food. she has the chief ushers take care of household arrangements. she knows that. she has a lot of detailed work. she concentrates on putting the white house back at the center
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of washington social life over the last few presidencies. it moved away from the white house. mrs. roosevelt took two hands to ease it back into the white house. they discuss social security o schedules to make sure nothing was conflicting with the white house's particular social agenda. >> what was the impact of all that? >> she had control over washington that i think some of the more recent had not. she formalized the thing and had a definite code of behavior. if you didn't follow it, you didn't exist in her washington. she did bring a power and grandeur back to the entertainment and the visible side of the white house that bolsters theodore roosevelt into international politics and bring power back to the presidency. >> lady bird johnson. >> lady bird johnson, i'm from
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texas and she is one of my favorite first ladies. she is the first first lady to announce her own inaugural agenda. she announces during up to the 1965 inauguration, she goes public with her agenda for her time as first lady and will concentrate on beautification or environmentalism. she was not thrilled with that word, but it was a doable word. she was going to concentrate on the great society and helping her husband's efforts to promote the great society. on working on his eventual presidential library. the east wing was with the west wing. she is doing environmental things. she is at a national park talking about the environment.
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we have a scarf in here that i love. the scarf promotes the discover america program. the discover america program is something that the west wing is putting it's an effort to keep american tourism dollars in america. it's encouraging you to vacation and tour america. so mrs. johnson can promote that at the same time she's promoting environmentallism. >> is this all part of the great society agenda? >> yes. in a large way all of it is. it's to make a better america. an america that's more livable for all of us. it's all tied in. what your environment is like has to do with what your life is like, what your financial situation is like, what the quality of your life. i think for her it all ties together. she's the first lady who says you have to find something to do that makes your heart sing. find the thing that makes your heart sing and follow that. >> as the first lady. >> as the first lady. life in general, but as the
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first lady. >> right. did she lobby for these projects? >> she did lobby. for the highway billboard act to take billboards off of national highways, mrs. johnson actually met with west wing staff and had her own call sheet of people to -- members of congress to directly call and lobby. everybody knew that mrs. johnson had influence and mrs. johnson quietly could work behind the scenes. this was a little too far in front. there was some backlash over that. and she , after that, retreated to a more veiled, behind-the-scenes kind of lobbying. but it's also mrs. johnson that takes the first campaign swing, solo campaign whistle stop tour. the lady bird special is a trip she takes into the south during is 1964 election campaign.
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lyndon johnson has signed the civil rights act. he's losing support in the south. mrs. johnson alone, obviously with a staff and companions, but makes a trip through the south stopping to speak to the public, strongarms in an oh-so-polite way governors and leaders in that state to meet with her. and speaks to the public, saying here's my point of view. and takes some abuse from the public. and then will say, well, you've had your turn. i've listened to you. now i hope you will listen to me. knowing that southern gentlemen have to let you -- a southern gentlemen is going to have to listen to and greet and be polite to a southern lady. >> the dress. tell us how she picked the design for this. >> a wonderful dress. beautiful yellow made by john moore, texas dress designer. and it's actually, mrs. johnson, of course, the wife of a senator, the wife of a member of congress, used to do constituent tours at the smithsonian institution. she would bring people to the
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first lady's exhibit when she was touring them through washington. so she was very familiar with the exhibit. and she says at one point that, you know, the beautiful embroidery and the light fabrics and the beads, they're beautiful. but they won't last. so she purposely picks a dress that she thought in style and in construction would stand the test of time. so it's a beautifully simple dress. we thank mrs. johnson because it has held up very well. >> what happens when a woman would be -- if a woman would be elected, elected president? we came close in 2008. we like to say when a woman is elected president. not if. we take it as a given. it's just a question of when. but it is an interesting question. people ask a lot, will we put her husband's suit in the exhibition? it takes us back to the beginning, that smithsonian definition of first lady. we'll have to wait and see who in that administration plays the role of the official hostess. the role that the first lady has
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played. thers no telling who that will be. will it be the husband? will it be the host in his own home? certainly she'll be the hostess. will it be a daughter? will it become a professional job? we just don't know. we're waiting to see. then to figure out what we do next in this exhibition where we take it forward. i think even more interestingly, after when a man is again president, what will happen to the first lady's role after that? will it revert? or will it have moved in a direction that is maybe more freeing to the woman who then becomes first lady. >> lisa kathleen graddy, thank you very much. >> thank you. you can watch american artifacts and other american history tv programs any time by visiting our website. c-span.org/history. the richard nixon presidential library convened a symposium titled "understanding
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richard nixon." this hour long discussion focuses on the president's economic and environmental policies and reviews the administration's civil rights record as well as the expansion of the white house staff and its authority during the nixon years. >> well, as one of the coordinator of this event, you know that -- and i say in all sincerity that i'm very glad to see you all here. so this is the panel that -- one of the panels i've really been looking forward to. the domestic panel. we've really got some amazing scholars who are some very interesting and understudied topics. starting with nigel bowles. georgetown university and oxford university. he's taught at the university of edinboro and university of oxford where he's been a lecturer since 1988. his books include "the white house and capitol hill,"
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"nixon's business." his current project, which we're all looking forward to, is "the politics of money: presidents, congress and the federal reserve board 1945-1988." and he's currently the director of the rothermore american institute at oxford. we're also pleased to have karen hult. she is professor of political science at virginia polytechnic institute and state university. she's the author of "agency merger and bureaucratic redesign" and is the co-author of "empowering the white house governance under nixon, ford and carter." and "governing public organizations." she has co-authored essays on the white house council and staff secretary as part of the white house transition project in 2000 to 2008. she's the past president of the american political science
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association's presidency research group and a book review editor for the presidential studies quarterly. dean kotlowski is here. here's a professor of history at salisbury university in maryland. he's written lots of articles and many journals including "the journal of policy history, diplomhistory," he was the visiting professor of history at indiana university. he's currently conducting research. paul mi llazzo is here as well. author of "unlikely environmentalists: congress and clean water 1945 to 1972."
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he received his p. hd from the university of virginia. his currenter include 20th century history, the environment, american intellectual history and history with an on conservative thought. it's an excellent panel. we're looking forward to what they all say. if you would. >> thank y afternoon, everybody. thank you for coming. my thanks, if i may, to everybody who's made this occasion possible. not least to -- but also this library and it's formidable director and staff and the miller center. so all of them, we are most grateful. when i met a colleague yesterday
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for the first time and he asked what i was speaking about, and i explained, he raised his eyebrows. and said -- speculated that it might be that it was one of the more thinly attended of the talks today. i'm glad to see that he was wrong. as i was making my way to the -- my room in the hotel yesterday, i observed the mug which i had been given upon my arrival. i u providence. so i turned it upsidedown and sure enough, saw what i expected to see, namely, "made in china." and i reflected, not for the first time, upon the extraordinary political creativity
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